The call was made after a new report, carried out by the newly created Sports Person’s Think Tank (SPTT) and funded by Fare, revealed the levels of exclusion of ethnic minorities in coaching jobs in English football.
The report, Ethnic Minorities in Coaching in Elite Level Football, found that only 19 ethnic minority coaches are employed out in 552 positions across 92 professional clubs (3.4% of the roles available) and pointed out major factors that are blocking the progress of ethnic minorities.
“This debate has been going on a long time, for 10 years. It’s great that we’re having this debate, but it needs to spark some real action from governing bodies.” said the former international Jason Roberts, head of the player’s organisation, adding that if football could not reform itself, the government should introduce regulations similar to those that forced FTSE 100 companies to improve female representation on their boards.
The report, presented yesterday in the UK parliament as part of the launch of SPTT, also revealed a six-point action plan designed to force football authorities to take action.
Among the six recommendations made is the need for English football to set a target of 20% of coaches to come from ethnic minority communities by 2020; a positive action programme to help fair recruitment, similar to the US ‘Rooney Rule’; a diversity plan to address the under-representation of ethnic minorities in administrative positions; and methods to overcome ‘closed networks’.
Talking from experience, former Wimbledon striker and current manager of Conference South club Staines, Marcus Gayle, said: “There are many former team-mates, good coaches among them as well, who have found it very, very difficult to even just get an interview or to just be involved in a conversation about getting coaching jobs.
“It does get a bit demoralising over a period of time.
“There doesn’t seem to be any kind of let-up with this sort of case. A lot of players lose hope and lose a lot of faith within the system.”
The FA welcomes the report
The Football Association (The FA) inclusion advisory board chair Heather Rabbatts said the governing body welcomed the report.
“It adds further evidence that bodies across the game need to work together to challenge discrimination,” read a statement.
“This report underlines why we all need to continue to work together, to address the lack of BAME representation beyond the pitch and the ‘closed systems’ which maintain it.
“We look forward to discussing these ideas with the Fare network and the Sports People’s Think Tank and also working with the sports minister to bring all parties together to maintain the momentum of change and build, on the work already under way across the game.”